AZF group threatens bomb attacks in France

25th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 25 (AFP) - A shadowy group looking to extort money through bomb threats against railway lines and other targets in France has resurfaced after a year's absence with a warning of attacks in May if it was not paid, officials said Friday.

PARIS, March 25 (AFP) - A shadowy group looking to extort money through bomb threats against railway lines and other targets in France has resurfaced after a year's absence with a warning of attacks in May if it was not paid, officials said Friday.

The group - or individual - calling itself AZF sent two letters, one to President Jacques Chirac and one to the interior ministry, on Thursday, the state prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The letters "contained threats with a view to extorting money," it said, without divulging details.

The group first appeared in December 2003 with a promise to blow up railway lines if it was not paid EUR 4 million and USD 1 million in cash. The discovery of a sophisticated bomb hidden under stones on a train line between Paris and Toulouse underlined the seriousness of the threat.

Revelations in the media that police and the blackmailers were communicating via classified ads in the daily press gave a veneer of intrigue to the case, which was only heightened when a complex ransom drop in March 2004 failed.

AZF announced on March 25 last year - one day after another of its devices was found on a railway line - that it was "suspending its action" because of technical difficulties in carrying out its planned bombing campaign, but warned it would be back with a more effective "force of persuasion".

The halt to its threats came two weeks after the March 11, 2003 train bombings in Spain blamed on Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaeda that shocked and galvanised Europe.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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